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Pope Francis says abortion is never OK and equates it to "hiring a hitman"

Vatican Pope
Pope Francis speaks with prelates at the Vatican on Saturday, May 25, 2019. Andrew Medichini / AP

Pope Francis on Saturday said abortion can never be condoned, even when the fetus is gravely sick or malformed. He is urging doctors and priests to support families to carry such pregnancies to term.

During an audience with participants of a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, Francis said opposition to abortion isn't a religious issue but a human one: "Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?"

Francis denounced decisions to abort based on prenatal testing, saying a human being is "never incompatible with life." The pope has spoken out strongly against abortion, though he has also expressed sympathy for women who have had them and made it easier for them to be forgiven.

Francis' comments come as several laws passed in the U.S. have severely limited or essentially banned the right to an abortion established in Roe v. Wade. A federal judge in Mississippi on Friday blocked a state law that prohibited abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks into pregnancy.

Judge temporarily blocks Mississippi’s new abortion law 00:31

Three other states — Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio — have passed their own "fetal heartbeat" bills. Last week, Alabama's Gov. Kay Ivey signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed a law banning abortions at eight weeks. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who ran on an anti-abortion rights platform, has said he will sign his state's fetal heartbeat bill.

None of those bills are currently in effect. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama's near-total abortion ban, and the ACLU challenged Ohio's bill last week. Kentucky's fetal heartbeat bill has been blocked by a federal judge.

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